A Word of Caution

Welcome to the realm of the Unseelie Court. Feel free to wander and browse, but know that the content you will find here is not for the faint of heart. The visions portrayed are often darkly erotic, even disturbing, and should be traversed only by those with the appropriate character and mental age.

You have been warned.


Tales From the Fae – Part V: The Academy of Dana

Chapter 35 – The Rooftop Club

“You want to do WHAT?!”

Michelle wasn’t so keen on my big idea.

“Let me get this straight,” she said as she took my arm and walked me a few paces away from the others. “You want to invite them to join us? To, how did you put it? Share ideas and knowledge?! Ran, that just goes against everything that the competition is all about!”

“No. You’re wrong, Shell. It only goes against what you’ve bought into the combat games as being. But that wasn’t the original purpose of the games at all. They were designed to be a means to improve ourselves. To test us so that we’d be ready when we took our place in the Fae world.”

“To be ready to lose you mean.” I could tell she was thinking about it.

“Michelle, are you really worried about losing to another First?”

She frowned in a half quirky way. “No, I guess not.”

“Then why not share the wealth? Who knows, maybe they have some ideas that we haven’t thought of yet. We could certainly cover a lot more ground before end of day tomorrow if we have their help.”

Sighing, the tall girl laughed softly. “I’ll do it, if for no other reason than to see the look on Delaney Safil’s face when she finds out. She’ll crap rockets! One thing though… How do you expect to keep them from bothering us. I mean, as soon as they see we’re using the Great Hall as a training room, it’s a sure bet they’ll try to break it up or generate some excuse why we’re in the way and have to leave.”

Michelle was right, but I had a thought about that one too.

“Do you trust me?”

“Yeah…” she said with a little trepidation.

I rubbed my hands together. “Oh boy! This is going to be fun.”

That’s how, an hour later we found ourselves in a heated discussion on the best way to deal with the various stunning charms, some that we had only heard rumor about. I was watching our little group, which had gone from Shell and I plus Petra and her three pals, to almost every First in the school as they each found their way into the Great Hall in ones and twos. Michelle almost balked when I first explained what I wanted to do, but once she saw that I really could pull it off safely, she just shook her head and followed along. You see, we were no longer on the “floor” of the huge hall.

Taking a cue from our last flying lesson, I worked with Candice and created a somewhat complex charm that reversed a section of gravity at the ceiling. We cast the enchantment right into the ceiling tiles themselves, creating what I hoped was a fairly permanent condition. It probably wouldn’t stand up to a really concerted effort to remove it, but I was pretty confident that it would take one of the staff to pull it off. The best part was that it required almost no external magical energy to keep it in force. I had simply changed the vector of gravity in a defined zone. All potential energy was conserved. The only thing that required any “maintenance” energy at all was the little trick we had thrown in to keep us from being bothered.

“It’s for First’s only,” I explained to Petra when we initially settled our feet on the roof, which was now our new “floor”. I had to put in a null gravity “buffer” zone to allow people to flip over so they wouldn’t fall on their heads, but otherwise getting up there was as simple as being brave enough to try it… So long as you were a first year student.

“How is it going to keep out the Uppers,” asked Petra as a few others, including Michelle got up enough courage to try out the charm and joined us.

“You’ll see,” I answered smiling. “Just wait until lunch.”

“Too bad we don’t have a table,” commented Michelle as she floated “down” to stand next to me. “It’d be great to get away and eat in peace for once.”

“I think that could be arranged,” said a voice on the floor below us. Looking down, my eyes widened. Standing there watching us with her arms crossed was Ananha.

“Mistress… Uh…” I stammered.

“Save it. I see what you’re up to, and while I cannot in my capacity as a Head of East House condone your little rooftop club, I find no reason to disallow it either. Your spell is sound, Miranda. Impressive to say the least. Be careful to instruct beginning fliers how to do that little flip and you should be fine.”

“So… we can stay here?”

The faerie chuckled to herself. “This place could use a little shakeup. And I suppose it won’t hurt your standing with the senior students any more than it already is, so why not. Here…” Ananha then motioned with her hands and I saw one of the large wooden tables slowly rise (or drop from my perspective) toward me. I knew from experience just how heavy that bit of furniture was, and quickly shoed people out of the way until it settled with a single clunk to its new home.

By lunch, the “Rooftop Club” as Ananha had inadvertently named it, was closing on two dozen members. It seemed that once it got around that the Firsts were being snubbed, most were more than happy to forget any animosity they might have had toward me and Michelle. Petra was beaming, having been made the unofficial leader of our little band of rebels, and even the differences between the houses seemed to disappear. If we were all going to be targeted anyway, house solidarity was a little silly.

It turned out that none of the Firsts had managed to get access to the combat logs either, which made Michelle feel a little better. I argued that it was just one more reason we should all team up and do the best we could for our class as a whole.

“Damned if I’m going to go down like a lamb to the slaughter,” argued Maria Gonzales, who had more than mastered her initial trouble with flying. Of those present, only she and I were considered ready to take our “proficiencies” in flying. I was a given, but Maria had made it her personal goal to be the best flier in our year, possibly the whole school if she had her way.

And it really did make a huge difference to have so many people working at once on the problems we were going to face. I’m sure that most of our solutions would be obvious and rudimentary to any of the other years, and probably just as easily duped, but if it let any one of us stay in the arena a minute longer before defeat, then it would be worth it. Most of what we did was pure discussion rather than spell work or combat sparring, at least at first. It was apparent that before we worked on practicing anything, we would need to know what it was we actually needed to practice. Candice and Michelle were key in this. Michelle took those working as the Dòrn, or “hand” of their pair and began giving them more advanced combat instruction, which they desperately needed. Not that what they were learning in class was bad, just done at a painfully slow pace. We had less than two days.

Candice on the other hand, was a virtual wealth of information on how best to organize your spells for quick access when you had to make fast choices during combat. She did help some of us in general spell construction, but only rarely. We all knew the basics. There simply wasn’t time to bring everyone up to her speed as far as advanced work was concerned. And then we had our first real breakthrough.

Without being too conspicuous, Ananha had come “up” and spent time watching our little group form. She was careful not to show favoritism by “helping” us specifically, but she was available to answer any questions about the legality of moves or forms of magic. During the remainder of the time she simply sat there smiling quietly. I’m sure that the headmaster had sent her to deter any of the upper grades that might have seen nearly the entire first year class congregating in one area as the perfect opportunity to pull a prank, and he was probably justified. I had put her presence out of my mind and so was a little startled to hear her interrupt Candice in the middle of a conversation involving dopplegangers.

“Actually, Miss Mellions, the use of another’s spells within the games is permitted, even encouraged. They are meant to be a reflection of your real world encounters within the Fae. You are free to acquire spells and charms from any source you wish. The only restriction being that you cast them yourself. I do caution you against using higher level spells than you are ready for, as the results may be worse than had you done nothing at all.”

Candice indicated the rest of our group. “Are you saying that I can write spells for them,” she asked, stunned.

“That,” and the faerie paused for emphasis, “is exactly what I am saying.”

Candice’s grin was suddenly so wide that she looked ready to pop. Most of the rest of the First’s hadn’t yet caught on to what had just transpired, but I had, and so had Michelle and Douglas. We looked at each other beaming. In no uncertain terms, the Principality had just told Candice how to turn our little club of inexperienced and unprepared beginners into a serious force to be reckoned with. It wasn’t as if we were suddenly going to duplicate Candice’s skills, but a basic collection of spells to choose from, crafted by someone who was an expert at simplifying the complex, now that was a gold mine. Other students would be pulling spells and charms from every source they could find, each hoping to find that one special “trick” that would give them an advantage in the arena. We would do the same thing with Candice as our source. We might not produce a single spell that hadn’t been seen before, but we’d sure put up a fight! And with any luck, maybe throw out something that they won’t be expecting to see from a First.

We all worked well into the night, and I had to drag Candice away when she started repeating herself out of exhaustion. By that time, we had assembled quite the “utility belt” of spells and packaged them up for each pair in the Rooftop Club to practice as they could. Many of them wouldn’t be able to take full advantage of the tools they had been given, but at least they now had a chance. I helped Candice out of her clothes and into bed and glanced over at Michelle, who had managed to follow us back without help, but had then dropped into her own bed and fallen asleep almost at once. She was snoring away, even more exhausted than my blond roommate. She’d been patiently instructing fellow students until she could hardly stand. Honestly, I was more impressed with her than I was with Candice. I knew how badly she wanted to show them much more advanced techniques, but she knew they would never get it in time. So she stuck to what she knew they could do. It was almost painful to watch her stop and repeat a move over and over in different ways until the one she was currently helping got it. By any standard, she was a far superior teacher than Stix, our faerie instructor, and I made a mental note to tell her so later.

I smiled and considered what the next few days would bring. If nothing else, it was sure to be interesting. I myself was wide awake. I never needed as much sleep as my friends did, but even had I been wiped out, I still had something I needed to do. I quietly left the dorm room and going against all reason, made my way toward the staff quarters alone. It wasn’t that I had a death wish, I just knew that the only escort I could get at the moment was Dramia. Maybe it was childish spite that kept me from following the Headmaster’s instructions, but it was one of the only bits of freedom I had. The freedom to risk my own neck if I wanted to.

Only once did I have to resort to magic to keep from being noticed. The rest of the time I just stayed in the shadows until whoever was coming had passed. It was only when I was caught in a long stretch of hallway without side passages that I quickly brought up my ego-exortus charm. I’d felt a little guilty recording Petra’s parameters at the time, but I was glad for it now. Instantly I had the odd shortening vertigo and knew that I now looked like she had earlier when I first tried the charm. The pair of third-year girls barely gave me a second glance as they walked on by and I breathed a bit easier. A faerie teacher who passed me a moment later looked at me and frowned, but said nothing as well.

Ananha wasn’t often in her student office, but I thought I would try it first before traveling the extra way to her quarters. The door opened as I approached and raised my hand to knock.

“Marcus would blow his top if he found you without an escort, Miranda,” she said staring down at me with a tight-lipped expression. “But he has enough to worry about right now so we just won’t tell him, shall we,” she exclaimed brightening a bit. “Nice use of the charm by the way,” she mentioned as she held the door open for me to enter her office. I paused, having completely forgotten I still had it going. Funny how quickly you can get used to a different perspective.

I figured that the simple illusion would never stand up to the gaze of a faerie, especially a principality, still, it was a little bit of a letdown knowing that I wouldn’t be able to use it to that end if I wanted to. The faerie must have picked up on my thoughts because she shut the door behind me and chuckled softly.

“Much more complex and creative spells than that have been used over the years to try and fool the staff, child, and I’ve no doubt that you’ll give us a real run for our money in the course of your education. Now,” and she indicated the large soft chair in front of her desk while she herself took the similar one behind. “What is it I can do for you at this late hour?”

She never even flinched while I canceled the charm and sat down. After a moment I said, “I want to ask you about glyphs.”

She seemed a little surprised. “Glyphs? The magical kind, then?”

“Yes,” I replied, “And their relation to use within the games.”

Now she was quiet again, and even squinted at me as she leaned back in her chair, thinking.

I waited.

“The area of glyphs within the games is somewhat vague…”

I resisted the urge to laugh. “I noticed.”

“At first, we considered disallowing them at all.”

“But that would create a scenario that was unlike that of real world combat and so, make the games pointless,” I finished for her.


“It gives the upper grades a distinct advantage.”

“As it does in the real world,” she finished for me.

“Then there’s nothing restricting me from creating glyphs for others?”

She waited quite a bit before answering.


“Thank you.” I said simply and started to rise.

“Wait…” she exclaimed while rolling her eyes. I paused and sat. Her expression told me that she was done with formalities.

“If you’re going to arm your friends with glyphs, then you had better understand some things first.”

I said nothing, but nodded.

Sighing, she leaned back in her seat and looked quite tired. “A glyph is a tool, like any spell. Smarter, and more flexible, but still a tool. Tools can indeed help you, but they can also be taken and used against you.”

I considered this. She was right of course. You could, for example, create a glyph that would try and alert you to attacks coming from behind. But a skilled crafter could find a way to corrupt your glyph so that it works for anyone except them, leaving you to trust in something that won’t defend you at all when the time is ripe.

“I assume that you plan to replicate a glyph for each of the Firsts?”

“Each First in our club, yes,” I corrected her. It was a minor point since only a very small number of our class were missing. Those of course being the Firsts who hung out with Shaina Robles. Even those who had chosen not to participate in the games had joined our band on the ceiling. It was entirely possible that we had someone in our group that might tell or share what we had with them, but I doubted it.

“Be warned,” said the faerie seriously. “Once it is known that you all use the same glyph, those that would oppose you will seek to take advantage of that commonality. You may be able to modify a glyph on the fly to protect against corruption, but I highly doubt any of your friends will be able to do so. You may very well provide a way for your opponents to take you all down without even having to worry about what other surprises you may have cooked up for them. Tread cautiously, Miranda. Not everyone has your level of skill.”

Ananha said the last with a rather direct gaze that I’m sure was meant to nail down the point. I took her words to heart and nodded.

“Very well then, I bid you good night. I take it you won’t have a problem getting back to your dorm room?”

I took her words to mean that I was to go straight back to my room or she’d fry me to a cinder. Briefly, I flashed on the idea of using the Principality’s parameters for my ego-exortus charm, but the faerie chuckled, picking up on my thoughts.

“I think you will find that very difficult, Child. The Headmaster is certainly not lacking for creativity,” she ended cryptically and waved me out of her office.

Back in our dorm room, I mulled over what I was considering doing. Certainly, without the glyphs, the first year’s would be at a huge disadvantage. Glyphs did many of the more mundane functions such as basic blocking, leaving you free to concentrate on offensive measures. They could also warn you of sneak attacks, or even dispel illusions meant to fool you. Without them, our little club would be easy pickings for the more advanced grades.

But the problem was I couldn’t make a separate distinct glyph for each combatant. There just wasn’t time. That meant, as Ananha had pointed out, that I would have to mass produce the same glyph. This I could do, but it meant that if anyone found a way to corrupt one of the glyphs, the same method could be applied to all of them. And it was a sure bet that any method of punishing us was going to spread like wildfire to the rest of the grades and houses. If all the houses were setting aside their differences just to see me and my friends annihilated, then it was almost a certainty that someone would find a crack in my crafting and exploit it with devastating results. I’d only been making glyphs for less than a week. Even at my advanced pace, there was a world of information regarding their construction that I still had to learn.

I also had to consider that it wasn’t just the level of our opponents that I had to worry about when crafting our glyphs. The rules stated that you could technically obtain your glyphs from anywhere, that meant that you could even buy them. The Market had many such vendors, and although it was generally considered dangerous, even foolhardy, to accept a glyph from someone you didn’t completely trust (Rachael had even warned us against such action) it wasn’t forbidden. It was entirely possible I might find my simplistic glyph up against an autonomous construct that was centuries old and well tried in battle long before I was born.

I sat on my bed in a loose lotus, letting my mind drift in possibilities. My trance state wasn’t quite the same as sleeping, but it did give my body at least, a chance to regenerate a little while I worked. But no matter what I packaged into what I was internally referring to as our “guardian”, I always came back to the basic problem of corruption. It would take only a single combatant to find a weakness and we’d all be toast. Ananha was right, it was a terrible risk. I played back our conversation in my head, weighing that risk.

I’d be a fool to think that what little I had learned in a week about glyphs could stand up against millennia of magical creation. I simply wasn’t there yet. So what were my skills? The Principality had mentioned that not everyone had my level of skill, so what was is it that I’m good at? If I couldn’t make something stronger, and better defended, what could I do? And then it hit me.

When you can’t be strong, you need to be fast. When your enemy has better armor, you have to rely on surprise and nimbleness. I couldn’t out-craft the other grades, but I might very well out-smart them! But how? What could I do that they wouldn’t have considered in thousands of years of making glyphs? How could I make a nimble glyph?… Something fast enough to dodge a smarter, more powerful creation, yet simple enough to be replicated for everyone before tomorrow morning?

My eyes popped open.


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